Philadelphia Union defender Mark McKenzie had an urgent message for anyone watching or reading about his Friday conference call with the media, one that had nothing to do with his team's approaching match on the weekend.
Two days after the Louisville, Ky., district attorney's office declined to charge two of the three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March, McKenzie apologized to her family and "all the families that have been unjustly treated." And he implored anyone as distraught as he was by the news to prepare to channel that anger into the upcoming general elections.
"We failed her. Our justice system failed her," McKenzie said. "And this is even more reason for my second point, for people to go out and vote. I can’t express how important that is in this crucial period. So make sure that you encourage your friends and families, and the next generation to make sure to get out there and register."
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was killed when the three white officers raided her home in the early morning hours of March 13 while executing a search warrant. The only charge resulting from the incident was that of reckless endangerment to former detective Brett Hankison, for bullets that were fired into a neighboring apartment.
Taylor's death has been among those used as a rallying cry in recent protests related to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Union have been among the most active MLS teams in lending their clout to that movement. Midfielder Warren Creavalle designed the "Black Lives Matter" T-shirts worn by players across the league, beginning at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando in July. In the opening game of that tournament, players took the field with the last names of Black victims killed in altercations with police on the back of their jerseys.
Union defender Ramon Gaddis is on the founding board of directors of the MLS Black Players for Change coalition.